In the lead up to the WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue
, hosted by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and convened by the Perth USAsia Centre, Tammy Wayne-Elliot asked Steve Clark of Cell Media
how the business broke the South East Asian market, and advice for other businesses looking to do the same.
How did Cell-media’s involvement with South-east Asia first come about?
Our first foray into the market was with Jardine Lloyd Thompson Insurance in Singapore around 2014 exploring the possibilities of a joint venture partnership for risk and safety based online training. Although this did not immediately lead to any projects, we did identify a potential market for online or E-Learning safety training in Singapore. It may have been a year or so too early for the market upon reflection.
We then engaged Austrade who assisted us to identify and explore a number of possible markets in both commercial and Government sectors. They also assisted us with the various business set up requirements.
We became involved with several Singapore Safety conferences as exhibitors. This also provided an opportunity to take advantage of live presentation slots. These were well attended and gave us further confidence that potential markets existed.
We also met John Catlin, (WA Commissioner for Trade and Investment Singapore) at the Malaysian Australian Business Council annual conference in 2016. As it has transpired this enduring relationship has been invaluable to our business at many levels. We meet with John often and he has also visited our office in Singapore and Perth.
How have you find doing business in Singapore, and how many years have you been trading in Singapore?
We registered the trading name Cell Media E-Learning Asia Pte Ltd on 23 August 2016 in Singapore and commenced trading with one local designer in a shared office.
We have researched, embraced and respected, the local cultures at both interpersonal and commercial levels. We have found Singapore to be a well-structured and safe commercial environment in which to do business. That is why we chose Singapore over KL.
We engaged local accountants to ensure we meet all statutory requirements, freeing up our time to focus on the core marketing and business development strategies. We also use a local marketing company (who we met incidentally at the inaugural Peth USAsia launch) to assist with local branding and marketing strategies.
Singapore companies prefer to work with companies who have bona fide offices with local staff and are quick to identify companies who use virtual offices.
What has led to the decision to establish an office in Malaysia?
Unlike Singapore, Malaysia has a range of Mining and Oil and Gas global companies who in some cases already work with us in Australia. Our contracts have gathered momentum in KL (Kuala Lumpar), and surpassed Singapore projects to the point that it is more cost effective to set up graphic designers locally. We will still maintain Singapore as our regional headquarters.
As in Singapore, our clients in KL prefer to work with companies who have bona fide offices with local staff. Rather than companies who work from non resident head offices . Again, companies are very quick to identify virtual offices. They often ask to meet at our office in the early stages.
Note that we also gave clients and projects in South America, the US and Canada. Our next plan is to set up an office in San Francisco in 2020.
What would your three tips of advice for businesses looking to enter the South-east Asian market?
Do your market research, and take advantage of Government agencies such as Austrade, and the WA Trade and Investment Office
- Make certain you have a strong physical presence. Travel frequently to the office, exhibit at relevant trade shows, and above all, meet with your clients often.
- Be patient and persistent. Don’t expect to make profits overnight.
What does the future hold for Cell-Media, both in Australia, in Asia and globally?
Cell media is involved in 2 key areas.
- Digital or E-Learning for safety and awareness training.
- Compliance and data management using our global management platform - Mobiliseme
With nearly 20 years’ experience, and more than a decade of that experience in foreign language programs, we are one of only a handful of companies globally who can provide such a high level of service and quality delivery of the ‘complete package’ from tailored instructional design through to data and compliance management.
Mobiliseme is currently being used globally by large corporates such as BHP, BP, Shell, South32 and Newcrest Mining. We see this data compliance and management platform as one of our strongest growth areas.
Digital learning has only been around since about 2006, and so it’s a relatively new method of training. More so in ASEAN countries, who are looking to Australia to assist with the development of digital training and safety programs. The programs are mobile device friendly, which is important in a region that has a large population and limited training resources. Combined with our unique experience in multiple languages, we believe this opens up endless possibilities.